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[Interview] Grid’s Writer, Lee Soo-yeon Tell The Story Behind Grid

“Grid” is a Disney+ Hotstar original mystery-tracking thriller drama that follows the story between a police officer and a detective who uncover the truth about the mysterious existence that saved mankind in a crisis.

In 1997, a mysterious ghost (Lee Si-Young) saved humankind and then disappeared. The mysterious ghost appears again 24 years later and helps a serial killer (Kim Sung-Kyun) escape. To uncover the mystery and find out her motive, Kim Sae-Ha (Seo Kang-Joon), Jung Sae-Byeok (Kim A-Joong) and Song Eo-Jin (Kim Moo-Yul) pursue the ghost for different reasons.

Check out our interview with Lee Soo-yeon , the writer of  Grid below:

1. Tell us about Grid.

Lee Soo-yeon: Many articles have described Grid as a “mystery chase thriller.” It’s a mouthful of big, intriguing words, but I think it’s accurate as Grid does melt three different genres into a complex pot of a story—at least on the surface. As for me, I went into it with the intention of exploring the same theme as I have in all of my previous work: the question of “how shall we live our lives”, and one of its many branches of answers. Above all, though, I wanted to keep viewers entertained.

2. What’s the story behind the title of Grid?

Lee Soo-yeon: At first I wanted to title the show “O”, as in a circle. It symbolizes that time is not linear; linearity is an artificial concept built for our convenience, when in fact time and space are continuous without beginning or end. The initial title was a double entendre meant to be read as a circle as well as the letter “O”, but I figured a title should have a single pronunciation to avoid confusion. I eventually went with “Grid” because it’s both the main subject matter and the inciting incident.

3. In the series, the Grid that you mentioned is a shield that saves mankind from a solar wind crisis. An officer from the Bureau of Management and a homicide detective pursue an enigmatic being called “Ghost” that created the shield. Your previous works were based on serious social issues such as the collusion between politics and business, investigative rights between the police and the prosecution (Stranger), and issues in the medical field (Life). With Grid, we’re dealing with something totally new and unconventional, starting with the subject matter itself. What inspired you to write something like this?

Lee Soo-yeon: It must have been around the time I was writing the last episode of Stranger Season 2. I was watching one of my favorite films on TV, which led me off on this train of thought on what the story would have been like if the film’s premise had been reversed. I was thirsty to write something different from my previous projects as well. Writing about real-life social issues required multiple lines of exposition on the background information. When I watched those scenes later on, I realized just how irritating they could be, especially for the actors. I wanted to take a jab at writing a series with less dialogue, and chose this particular topic because it could be conveyed without much background information.

4. The originality of the subject matter seems to have massively expanded the scope of the worldbuilding.

Lee Soo-yeon: I didn’t start out with the concept of a solar wind crisis, or any other kind of dramatic, apocalyptic scenario. The Ghost, who created the Grid, can travel through time, which allows her to re-emerge 24 years later to protect a murderer. Stories about time warps have been done to death, so to spice things up, the question had to be, “Why would anyone take great pains to time travel to do something like that?”—and it took off from there, little by little. Also, I wanted to raise awareness of environmental issues. They are addressed in Grid in the form of a solar wind crisis, but the story could have been about global warming or rising sea levels and the stakes would have been just as high.

5. Grid boasts a perfect cast akin to the Avengers of genre dramas, creating a lot of anticipation for the show from just the actors’ names alone: Seo Kang-Jun, Kim A-joong, Kim Moo-yul, Kim Sung-kyun, and Lee Si-young, to name a few. How did you feel when the cast was confirmed?

Lee Soo-yeon: I’ve seen Seo Kang-jun’s previous works and thought he is a fantastic actor; his performance in Grid only strengthened this impression. His character, Sae-Ha, is a wounded man whose unresolved emotional scars have hardened into warts over time. If this character was to be portrayed by an actor who looked all bubbly and naïve, I would have had to add a sad back story for the sake of characterization; but Seo Kang-Jun has that je ne sais quoi that achieves the same effect with his looks alone. As the story progresses, there are times when Sae-ha is blinded by his obsession for hunting down the Ghost. When I saw the edited version of those scenes later on, I found myself really believing that nothing else mattered to him but the Ghost. Seo Kang-Jun’s portrayal of the character’s mind and feelings was so raw and nuanced.

Kim A-joong has that rare quality of being seemingly both strong and fragile at the same time, which she has in common with her character Sae-byeok. Sae-byeok is internally conflicted and unstable, but no one around her notices because she is so stoic and put-together on the outside. Watching her performance made me curious to see what she would be like in a melodrama for mature audiences. There are moments when her expression is firm and resolute, but her eyes are a dam of tears about to burst open.

Kim Moo-yul nailed his character. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can see for yourself. I kept sympathizing with him the whole time I was watching his performance on the monitor while shooting. He conveyed every subtle shade of Eo-jin’s emotions beyond the script and the mise-en-scène, and it’s all achieved with pure talent.

When I first heard that Kim Sung-kyun was cast as Kim Ma-nok, I thought, “Oh my god!”—he was just perfect for the role. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the series. He’s often played a gentle-hearted good guy in the past, which made me wonder if his image had somewhat softened; but the moment he stepped into the scene, I knew he was Ma-nok.

As for Lee Si-young , I had her in mind for the role from the start. I wasn’t sure she’d agree to it because the Ghost didn’t have many lines, so I hoorayed to myself when I heard she came on board. Having seen her performance, it’s impossible for me to imagine the Ghost as anyone else now. If I get to work with her again, I’d like to add lots of powerful action scenes. Perhaps this is TMI, but she let me touch her muscles.

I can rave on forever: Jang So-yeon, whose character plays an important role at the Bureau and adds gravity and scale to the series, as well as Lee Gyu-hoe, Baek Seung-cheol, and many others who have given their utmost to Grid. You simply must see it for yourself!

6. Lastly, can you give out some hints about what the series has in store, for the eagerly awaiting fans?

Lee Soo-yeon: Where do I even begin? The edited version I got to see had no CGI, special effects, or audio effects. There’s going to be a lot of CGI, so I’m looking forward to watching the final product. Oh, and the acting is totally worth the hype. The actors brought their characters to life, even during the ordinary scenes. I hope the viewers will share this sentiment, and above all, enjoy the series.

That’s the end of the short interview session. Don’t forget to stream Grid on Disney+ Hotstar.

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